Solar Consumer Reporting

solar good and bad equipment

About US

I live in a grid tied solar home with a system I installed myself in 2001. At that time my local power utility didn't have any incentives or even net-metering for solar yet. They had only been in business for 75 years with about 800,000 customers. They are a not for profit government utilty. I told my story each year at their public meetings and now we have full retail net-metering and incentives. The federal Government also started incentives so it's a super deal now. The utiltiy offered me incentives for my system I already had installed but I said no way.  I don't need or want their money. I was 1 of 800,000 customers with solar, now they have proper incentives and 5,000 solar customers and growing.

My home has a tile roof that I didn't want to make holes in. My roof also faces east -west and you need to have your panels face true South for the most sun. I installed my system on poles in my back yard. This allows me to check them and adjust the angle by season standing on the ground with 1 wrench in 3-5 minutes. I have 5 poles with 28 panels total.  

The system took me 2 days to install and connect. I even dug the pole holes and placed the cement. It has 24 Siemens PV panels that are 75 watts each. I also added 4 Evergreen PV ribbon panels that are 120 watts each. They are connected to 2 Advanced Energy Inverters 1000 watt that are no longer made. They take groups 4 panels connected in series to make 48 volts (which actually reads 60 volts). The inverters change the DC to AC 120 volts and match my grid line voltage. I've measured from 118 to 125 volts as the Utility adjusts for loads.

I don't have any batteries, this is a syncronous AC system. If the grid power goes out I don't make any power. My system shuts down for safety. If power comes back it comes back up after power is stable in about 1 minute.  This is a Siemens Earth Safe system with UL safety rating. Note Shell bought Simens solar in about 2005.  

I have been teaching a class for 4 years on Solar Energy as a volunteer instructor at Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Mesa Community College. Most people have no idea where their power comes from , what fuel makes it, what pollution is creates, what subsidies it gets or how much is dumped at night because they can't turn it down when demand drops at night. I try to answer all those questions and more at each class. Education is the key to our actions.

My real job is working in Telecommunications which I started in back in 1971. I've worked in land line telcos, wireless and satellite. I've also worked in South America (San Salvador)  and India (Mumbai).  

I have been a volunteer with many groups including at the Red Cross for 11 years as a DAT driver and blood services hemotron operator, fixed talking books for the blind for 8 years, built homes with Habitat for Humanity , adapted toys for handicapped children and taught teachers appleworks. I'm also a volunteer in the Arizona Solar Energy Association and Phoenix Electric Vehicle Association. I write on http://www.evworld.com/ and http://www.fixingtheplanet.com/ Ed Begely Jr is my American green hero, my favorite President is Jimmy Carter.

Sunny (jim) Stack, Chandler AZ  contact jstack6@juno.com